Valanciunas Primed For Big Things

        Whether there is an NBA season this year or not, even if Valanciunas does not report to the league until next season, the 2011 fifth pick of the Toronto Raptors is ready for the next step in his career. The 19 year-old claimed the MVP of the FIBA U19 World Championships, not only leading Lithuania to a gold medal, but dominating the competition in doing so with 23 point, 13.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks per game averages, all while shooting 59.5 percent from the field. In limited action thus far in EuroBasket play (due to Lithuania blowing teams out and getting handled by Spain), Valanciunas has been performing well, completing nearly every shot around the rim and collected loose balls on the defensive glass. Any questions about Valanciunas being "NBA-ready" have been answered with an emphatic yes.

        Valanciunas' buyout situation with his Lithuanian team Lietuvos Rytas was quite sticky- a $3 million situation before the draft, causing him to fall a few spots from No. 3 or No. 4 to the Raptors at 5. Valanciunas and his agents worked with the Lithuanian club team to lower the buyout if Valanciunas played one more season for them, which will allow him to play for Toronto in 2012-13.

By President Corey Ruff - 9 - 8 - 11